I flew out from Northern Norway early on the morning and before lunch I stepped out of Riga Airport and jumped into a Taxi. About half way into the city the driver began texting his phone at the same time as he turned onto the main road and BLAM!! From behind a large trailer smashed into the side of the taxi almost throwing is up on the sidewalk. The road was covered in car parts and broken glass. Luckily the driver of the trailer had been more aware and didn`t hit us straight on, then it would have been the end of my expeditions. We was not injured, I only had some pain in my knee,wrist,elbow and ribs so I got the diver to call me a new cab and a few minutes later I was checking in to the hotel and met up with Jon and a new guy joining us,Gary from the UK. A bit later Victoria and Natalia arrived and also Steve, Anton and even Kristina from Radi was in the city and joined up.
Later on the evening Kim and Martins came and also Victors and Roberts. We spent the evening on Rock Cafes karaoke bar, drinking,eating and playing pool until we wised up and found our hotel rooms.
Early next morning I woke up feeling fine and ready to dig and rushed down to the reception to find out who had won the hangover competition. This time I was so happy to not win, it was Anton who was the lucky one and he really looked like he was suffering.
We went to the pick up point and met up with the Latvians and drove towards a forested area just outside Riga.
Roberts was in charge of the BBQ and coffee making so he too had a busy day as the diggers were gathering around him when they grew hungry and thirsty.
The day went on like this and more and more soldiers came out from the ground and in the evening we had recovered 33.
When the sun set we called it a day and the international guys was dropped off by a local hotel in Kekava where we were staying for the weekend. After a half cooked dinner at the local pizza place we all went to sleep as we had had a long day.
At lunch we were served hot soup which was delicious and when all the diggers was full and fresh after the rest the work continued.
Soldiers were recovered, holes filled back and new ones opened and when one digger was tired another one took his place and everyone seemed to help eachother as best they could. If someone didn`t find something to do Talis always had new things for them to do, gather firewood, pick up garbage or bring up new bodybags and bonetrays.
Towards dinnertime we were called to gather around the table, two of the diggers, Gatis and Ilgonis was awarded the badge for finding lost soldiers, and they were both plastered with big smiles as a celebratory toast for them went around the group.
At one point when it had been decided to only dig one more row of graves as time wouldn`t allow much more to be done some of us international guys found our detectors to do a little search in the surrounding area. We found lots of Arisaka and Mosin ammo and some live artillery shells. Me and Kim went to search the field hospital but didn`t have much luck. Kim found a strange rifle casing which we thought could be some kind of hunter ammo but on closer inspection it turned out to be two casings modified into a pencil, a very nice little find.
In the evening 32 soldiers had been exhumed and all the pits filled back. From archives we had names for 20 of the soldiers and some more searching will be done on the site at a later time.
Back in Kekeva we were not all that eager for uncooked pizza so we found the other restaurant a few km away from the hotel. It was a very cozy little place with some great food and very friendly atmosphere and we had a fantastic evening together and didn`t leave before it was time for them to close up a bit before midnight.
When we gathered for lunch some cakes were placed between us and we had a small celebration of Roberts birthday, and I ll tell you it is one of the best cakes I have ever had (sorry Mom,but they were amazing).
One of the diggers had a long iron signal and began digging it and soon a ww1 Mauser saw daylight again, a superb find.
Steve found a piece of a German EKM and I think most of the guys found mostly shrapnel and shells,nothing spectacular was found. Late on the afternoon a trenchline was dug and suddenly bones came out from it. Several lost soldiers were being exhumed and it looked like they had all died from a detonation and it was found rests of a exploded handgrenade between them. Before we left 9 soldiers had been recovered on the hill.
Steve had a flight to catch in the evening so when the sun was dipping behind the treeline we collected our equipment and had to say goodbye to eachother. Gary,Kim,Jon and Anton went to the hotel in Kekeva, Steve to the airport and I was dropped off in Riga where I had a great dinner, a long shower and met up with Andris for a few beers before the day ended a few hours past midnight.
Monday morning I had to say farewell to Lovely Riga and went to the airport where I met with Anton,Jon and Gary who had flights at the same time as me. Kim took a late flight so he had some hours to kill in Riga which he spent on sightseeing.
I arrived home to a cold and frozen Nordland and immediately sunk into a light post-expedition depression but meeting my happy cats again sorted that.
I want to give a big thanks to our bossand hero Talis and the rest of the latvian crew for taking us internationals on this great expedition, and a big thanks to the other digger groups that helped us recover the ww1 graves.
Until next time, stay happy and do someting good:)